Finding a backup and/or storage solution for a small business environment that fits a price point can often be a challenge. Deciding whether to choose a rack-mounted solution or discrete solution, also what OS to choose, how much storage space you need adds to that challenge. LaCie is attempting to tackle this challenge with their 2Big and 5Big NAS solutions. We have already taken a look at the 2Big Network 2 and the 5Big Network 2 which both offered LaCie NAS OS 2.0. In this review we will be taking a look at their 5Big Office+ featuring Windows Storage Server Essentials R2. LaCie’s aim is clearly stated in their quote about the 5Big Office+.
Total protection for your data. Easy collaboration for your business. Solid investment for your company. The LaCie 5big Office+ brings professional backup to your small office in record time. It features the industry-trusted Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials and a powerful 1.6GHz Dual-core Intel® 64-bit Atom™ processor. It provides full data protection, superior data sharing for your office and offsite partners, easy integration, and low maintenance.
Pretty clear goals LaCie has set using statements such as “Easy Collaboration”, “Professional Backup”, and “Easy Integration.” Let us take a look at the full spec sheet before we delve into testing these statements.
The packaging is nothing out of the ordinary with two foam pieces sandwiching the NAS in the box for safe shipment. The hard drives were shipped installed in the NAS. This raised a little concern was we have shipped servers in the past with the drives in the server and when the server was unpacked and powered on we discovered the drives had put stressed on the back plane where the hard drive connects to the server and resulted in damage of the back plane and required replacement. We did not experience an issue with our Lacie 5big Office+ NAS, but it is a concern.
The 5Big Office+
- Server Setup Disc
- Drawer Key
- Power Adapter and Cable
- Windows Storage Server 2008 R2
- 15′ (5m) Shielded Cat6 Cable
It is not uncommon for compact NAS solutions to use a external power supply, but the only concern we have with this type of setup is if/when the power supply goes bad, there isn’t a store around the corner to pick up a replacement. The LaCie 5big Office+ does have a three warranty to replace any failed hardware, but there is a possible downtime between the failure and when the replacement arrives in the mail. This issue has burnt more than customer over the past few years which resulted in days when the users could not access their data. This is of course an issue with any NAS which uses a proprietary power supply, so not specifically LaCie.
|Processor||Dual-Core 1.66GHz Intel 64-bit Atom processor|
|Environment & Power||
|Operating System||Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials|
|# of Supported Users||25|
|Dimensions||173 x220 x 196mm / 6.8 x 8.6 x 7.7in|
A Couple highlights to make here: Dual Gigabit NICs allows for faster connections (Teaming) or failover, VGA port for physically logging into the server, ESATA/USB for extended compatibility, and Windows Storage Server Essentials 2008 R2.
Step1 : Insert CD and run initializer.
Step 2: From there you can access the NAS from any browser by navigating to http://<<NAME>>/connect. In the picture below, we named the server “OFFICE”. This will let you install both the Dashboard and Launcher for either Windows or Mac.
Step 3: From here I strongly suggest that you restart and check for windows updates. After restarting you are greeted with the Launchpad. Log in here and you have access to Backups, Remote Web Access, Shared Folders, and Dashboard. This is essentially the end-user side of the NAS where the dashboard is the administrative side.
From here this particular computer is setup with the Office+. After this all you have to install is the launchpad and dashboard to on other computers is navigate to http://<<NAME>>/connect.
The dashboard can be accessed remotely via Microsofts DDNS tool (RemoteWebAccess), from here the administrator can add users and shared folders, remotely VPN into any computer, view backups and alerts, and view the SMART status of the drives. Unlike the other LaCie NASs’ we’ve reviewed the user cannot remotely (on or off LAN) change the RAID type without actually logging into the unit via VGA and USB plugs.
Windows Storage Server Essentials 2008 R2
The 5Big Office+ comes with Windows Storage Server Essentials 2008 R2 (WSS): Microsofts’ latest storage software. Some quick notes to make on how WSS 2008 R2 differs from Windows Home Server:
- WSS 2008 R2 offers a maximum of 25 users where WHS maxes out at 10.
- WSS 2008 R2 can join an active domain where WHS and Small Business Server 2011 cannot.
- WSS 2008 R2 Does offer both Media Sharing and Remote Web Access.
- AMD Llano A8-3870K APU
- Asus F1A75m-Pro Motherboard
- GSkill Ripjaws Z 4x 4GB RAM @ 1600
- 1X Kingston 64GB SSDNow and 1X Crucial M4 (Both Connected to Sata III)
- Prolimatech Panther Cooler
- Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Chassis
- Windows 7 Professional
|Download from NAS to Desktop @ ~107MBps||Upload from Desktop to NAS @ ~72.0MBps|
Testing here is quite simple: We speed test an upload and download to/from the NAS using a standard Gigabit router and port (Keep in mind this is a single line). With the Gigabit Speeds offered from our router (125MBps) we were able to achieve 107MBps on a download from the NAS and 72MBps on an upload. This partly shows the power of RAID5 but also shows the on-board NIC cards are not going to be an issue. Unfortunately we were unable to test this in Teaming mode because only enterprise-level networking hardware offers Teaming support. This NAS is more than fast enough to handle everyday file shares, streaming, and backing up at the same time.
LaCies’ 5Big Office+ is a great storage tool for a small business environment simply because it easily integrates into any network because of its Microsoft backbone OS. However we at Techwarelabs set out to build a comparable storage solution to see if how we could compare to LaCies’ price of $1,499.00.
||Specking out a system comparable to the Office+ shows where a large sum of the allotted budget is going: Hard Drives and Windows Storage Server (Keep in mind we didn’t get to add another gigabit LAN card). With a design such as this one you gain the ability to swap out or upgrade any part as needed but you’re paying an additional ~$250.00. However with the Office+ you get a much more streamlined product as well as a 3-year Warranty on both unit and Hard drives.|
All things considered I have no doubt about the quality or effectiveness of the LaCie 5Big Office+. The build quality is superior and the collaboration of Hardware is second-to-none. I do have a couple things to keep in mind if you’re looking at integrating any NAS into a small business environment.
- Redundancy: The best way to avoid down time (in this case inaccessibility to files or backups) is redundancy. LaCie has the drives and network covered (RAID and Dual Gigabit respectively). However they have not approached the possibility of a Power Supply Failure. The external power supply design is a step in the right direction because it is easily replaceable. Yet still there lies the possibility of down time. With a storage device at this caliber downtime is often unacceptable. I recommend purchasing a 2nd adapter in the case of a failure.
- Warranty: LaCie has included a 3 year warranty with the 5big Office+ which is a great safety net. This means you are guaranteed this device for 3 years (Price ~$1,500.00 comes down to $500/year GUARANTEED). This is something often overlooked when purchasing or building a NAS. In our build above the total warranty might be a year or 2 (excluding Hard Drives). While that build is more modular it can easily become a constant upgrade pit.
With everything we have discussed here I am confident that this device could easily and effectively integrate into any small business environment. However Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 means that this NAS cannot easily be administered by anyone: you will need someone familiar with the Windows Server family. Sure creating accounts and monitoring privileges are easily accessed by the Dashboard; Things such as RAID Management need someone familiar in the field. With all of this in mind I have no reasons not to award the LaCie 5Big Office+ our Awesome Hardware Award.